Publications

  • Research Area: Economic Development ×
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  • The Impact of Subsidized Housing Investment on New York City’s Neighborhoods

    The contemporary assumption is that the production of subsidized housing, if anything, accelerates neighborhood decline – “there goes the neighborhood” is the common refrain.  Partially as a result, we’ve seen the policy pendulum swing away from place-based housing investment towards demand-side housing programs, such as housing vouchers. Through multiple studies, the Furman Center has consistently found significant, positive impacts from subsidized housing investment, suggesting that publicly-funded housing investments aimed at distressed urban properties can deliver significant benefits to the surrounding community.

  • The Role of Cities in Providing Housing Assistance: A New York Perspective

    In recent years, the federal government has increasingly relied upon states and cities to create and administer social policy. This paper examines available theory and evidence regarding the appropriate role of different levels of government, focusing in particular on the role of cities. Exploring the case of New York City, the paper also offers new empirical evidence on the extent to which investments in affordable housing can help to eliminate externalities and rebuild inner city communities. The authors conclude that although cities should play a major role in administering housing programs, they should only fund them under a limited set of circumstances. Redistribution of income, a major objective of most housing subsidy programs, should generally be paid for by the federal government, not cities. In contrast, cities should consider funding housing production programs when they are part of a comprehensive strategy either to remove negative externalities or to generate positive spillovers. The authors' empirical analysis of New York City's investment in new housing suggests that housing programs can generate significant external benefits to their neighborhoods. Thus, the results point to a potentially important role for cities, based upon the spillover effects of housing construction and rehabilitation in distressed neighborhoods.

  • Building Homes, Reviving Neighborhoods: Spillovers from Subsidized Construction of Owner-Occupied Housing in New York City

    This article examines the impact of two New York City homeownership programs on surrounding property values.  Both programs, the Nehemiah Program and the Partnership New Homes program, subsidize the construction of affordable owner-occupied homes in distressed neighborhoods.  Our results show that during the past two decades prices of properties in the rings surrounding the homeownership projects have risen relative to their ZIP codes.  Results suggest that part of that rise is attributable to the affordable homeownership programs.

  • Race-Based Neighborhood Projection: A Proposed Framework for Understanding New Data

    This paper outlines the race-based, neighbourhood projection hypothesis which holds that, in choosing neighbourhoods, households care less about present racial composition than they do about expectations about future neighbourhood conditions, such as school quality, property values and crime. Race remains relevant, however, since households tend to associate a growing minority presence with structural decline. Using a unique data-set that links households to their neighbourhoods, this paper estimates both exit and entry models and then constructs a simple simulation model that predicts the course of racial change in different communities. Doing so, the paper concludes that the empirical evidence is more consistent with the race-based projection hypothesis than with other common explanations for neighbourhood racial transition.

  • No Easy Answers: Cautionary Notes for Competitive Cities

    Leaders of American cities seeking to foster economic growth often look to success stories from other cities, hoping to find models and strategies to replicate. Some favorite strategies include investing in infrastructure, lowering taxes (both overall and in a targeted fashion), building sports stadiums, picking and promoting particular industries (such as "high tech"), and investing in casino gambling. But many benefits of those popular success stories are at best exaggerated and at worst apocryphal. Although the strategies sound appealing, and although each may have worked in particular well-publicized circumstances, as gambling did in Las Vegas, they are typically not successful and policymakers should be cautious in pursuing them.

  • Miracle on Sixth Avenue: Information Externalities and Search

    After a long dormant period, Lower Sixth Avenue in New York has under gone a rapid revitalisation. We show that a simple search theoretic model with information spillovers can explain both the period of underuse and the rapid turnaround. The model reduces to a simple equation, which allows us to do comparative statics on the duration of vacancies. We show how the solution reacts to changes in market structure and changes in search technology. The model is suggestive of difficulties that may occur in many markets in which there are changes over time in the optimal use of resources.